The Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration Task Force established by President Obama has released its draft plan for long-term ecosystem restoration. The program aims to address the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as decades of wetland loss, eutrophication, and harm caused by other stresses.
The policy outlines four major goals: restore and conserve habitat; restore water quality; replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources; and enhance community resilience. Scientific research is considered as the basis for these actions. “Given the inherent complexities of undertaking ecosystem restoration on this scale, a key focus of implementation will be to ensure that ecosystem restoration efforts have a robust scientific foundation and use an effective adaptive management framework including necessary monitoring, modeling, research, and decision-support tools,” stated the Task Force.
Several scientific needs are outlined in the report, including investment in research and exploration to better understand Gulf ecosystems. Other goals include developing a comprehensive “watershed to Gulf” monitoring program and establishing a Gulf of Mexico modeling network. The expansion of ecosystem services benefits analysis tools to include socioeconomic benefits is also identified as a need.
Congress is considering legislation that could help to implement the plan. A Senate panel passed legislation in September that would direct up to 80 percent of fines paid in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill into environmental and economic restoration programs in the region. The bill (S. 1400) would direct 5 percent of those funds to a new science and technology program. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.
Public comments on the draft report are being accepted through 26 October. For more information and to read the report, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-10-05/html/2011-25769.htm.
back to Public Policy Reports